Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all,

I'm a newbie to aquaponics, and I am trying to figure out the regulations for raising Tilapia in New Mexico.  I googled it, and I get an article from NMSU saying it is illegal in NM.  The Fish and Game website doesn't have much information, but does have applications for permits to import and or release exotic fish into natural bodies of water.  I don't want to release them, just want to raise and eat them.  Otherwise, I just can't find the relevant regulations.

Thank you,

Kelly

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Just keep in mind that tilapia are NOT the only type of fish you can raise in Aquaponics.  I actually really prefer catfish since they grow fast and they don't require you to keep the water as warm through winter.  Bluegill are another option if you really just don't like catfish.

Thank you Dr. Brooks, that's the NMSU page that alerted me that starting AP might not be very straightforward here.  I guess I need to find an AP gardener here in NM and see what they're raising and how they got them.  I was looking at bluegill (sorry TCLynx, I've had good catfish, but I find it very inconsistent, I've had nasty catfish too), but it looks as if you have to have permits to import any live fish or to buy game fish in the state.  Ironic, as we've kept as pets a pair of goldfish my daughter caught while fishing for trout in Manzano Lake.

To compare wild caught or store bought catfish to aquaponic home grown catfish isn't going to give you an accurate indication of what fish grown in your AP system will taste like.  I hear lots of people complain that catfish tastes muddy.

(by the way I don't think the muddy flavor has much to do with them living on muddy bottoms but more to do with certain types of algae blooms or bacteria in the water, or perhaps the conditions the fish existed in between being caught and finally being killed and prepared to be eaten.)

But anyway, I've never experienced a "muddy tasting" fish from aquaponics but I do tend to keep my water quality good and we tend to net the fish out of the tank and within moments of being removed from the tank it is killed and being prepared and then into salted icewater until time to cook dinner or it is frozen.  No time for the fish to develop an "off" flavor there.  I've eaten all three, tilapia, catfish and bluegill.  The tilapia and channel catfish are the most mild fish that will take on the flavor of how ever you cook them, they taste basically the same to me.  Only real differences between the are more to do with texture, especially if you over cook them, the tilapia get stringy while the catfish gets really dense.  Bluegill are smaller and generally cooked as pan fish and so there are more bones to deal with.  Tilapia are not all that easy to fillet and catfish grow big fast and are easier to fillet or get large chunks of meat without bones.  I've been terribly spoiled by the "Cook" making catfish nuggets.

What sort of game fish are available in NM?  I generally recommend getting fish that are grown in your home state to raise in AP if it is at all reasonable.  Tilapia are probably only possible there with some climate control since if the water gets down below about 55 F you are in the danger zone for tilapia and they don't eat or grow much when the water is below 70 F.



Dr. George B. Brooks, Jr. said:

This might get you started:

http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/circ543.html

Keep in mind that this circular is primarily about Aquaculture as opposed to Aquaponics.

Cash

Cash you bring up an interesting point regarding aquaponics that being new to the discipline, Kelly could find useful. Some practitioners of AP do not consider it to be aquaculture. 



Dr. George B. Brooks, Jr. said:

Some practitioners of AP do not consider it to be aquaculture.

I think that AP is a subset of aquaculture with a very important distinction. The biological remediation is confined in a closed loop of re-circulating water. Aquaculture may also posses this feature but more often than not the closed loop, in the local since, of the word does not exist. By local I mean within the system that we have direct control over.

So if a fish or its eggs escape our tank they have no where to go. Many aquaculture systems are intimately linked to a waterway, stream or the sea / ocean, therefore, the escape can have much broader concern and implications. The discharge of nutrient rich waters is a rare and hopefully controlled event in AP but may be routine and necessary in typical aquaculture practices. This partially explains rules and regulations that restrict certain activities and we may have to work within the system to carefully define our activities and set them aside, where appropriate, from aquaculture in general.

Interesting Cash and thank you. I mostly agree. However, the part you describe as a differentiation from aquaculture I see instead as an advancement in aquaculture. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) move dirty water to a filter, clean it up and return it to the fish. The holy grail in research has always been to find a way to do this cost effectively with a minimum or of or with no discharge. By creating a filter composed or partially composed of living marketable plants is one powerful way of accomplishing this task. This is the benefit aquaponics brings. The improvement in bio-security (no fish escapes) is an additional benefit.

Recently the sustainability movement has encouraged a reexamination and refinement of ancient polyculture techniques that maximize efficiency by using products, including waste, from one aquatic species as inputs (fertilizers, food) for another. This is called IMTA (Integrated Multi Trophic Aquaculture) This is also the definition of aquaponics. Thus those who practice aquaponics are actually on the leading edge of aquaculture and aquaculture research.

P.S. Here is a good Wikipedia link on IMTA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_multi-trophic_aquaculture

Thank you,  that has given me something to think about.  I do think I'm getting ahead of myself though, I need to build a  green house and set up my system first, so I'm months and months away from buying fish!    I should probably set up an indoor system this fall first, I have a 23 gallon aquarium I'm not using....



TCLynx said:

To compare wild caught or store bought catfish to aquaponic home grown catfish isn't going to give you an accurate indication of what fish grown in your AP system will taste like.  I hear lots of people complain that catfish tastes muddy.

(by the way I don't think the muddy flavor has much to do with them living on muddy bottoms but more to do with certain types of algae blooms or bacteria in the water, or perhaps the conditions the fish existed in between being caught and finally being killed and prepared to be eaten.)

But anyway, I've never experienced a "muddy tasting" fish from aquaponics but I do tend to keep my water quality good and we tend to net the fish out of the tank and within moments of being removed from the tank it is killed and being prepared and then into salted icewater until time to cook dinner or it is frozen.  No time for the fish to develop an "off" flavor there.  I've eaten all three, tilapia, catfish and bluegill.  The tilapia and channel catfish are the most mild fish that will take on the flavor of how ever you cook them, they taste basically the same to me.  Only real differences between the are more to do with texture, especially if you over cook them, the tilapia get stringy while the catfish gets really dense.  Bluegill are smaller and generally cooked as pan fish and so there are more bones to deal with.  Tilapia are not all that easy to fillet and catfish grow big fast and are easier to fillet or get large chunks of meat without bones.  I've been terribly spoiled by the "Cook" making catfish nuggets.

What sort of game fish are available in NM?  I generally recommend getting fish that are grown in your home state to raise in AP if it is at all reasonable.  Tilapia are probably only possible there with some climate control since if the water gets down below about 55 F you are in the danger zone for tilapia and they don't eat or grow much when the water is below 70 F.



Dr. George B. Brooks, Jr. said:

However, the part you describe as a differentiation from aquaculture I see instead as an advancement in aquaculture. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) move dirty water to a filter, clean it up and return it to the fish.

P.S. Here is a good Wikipedia link on IMTA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_multi-trophic_aquaculture

I have learned so much about the interactions of things in a system of water since setting up my small systems. These are lessons that apply to other, probably all, systems when you broaden your vision. My field of expertise, prior to this was electronics and everything I learned about the flow of current seems to have an analog in water. Everything I practiced in filtering a radio signal has an analog in aquaponics.

Your reference to IMTA is an example which drives home the point of how trying to differentiate has lead us into narrowing our vision so much that it becomes a discussion about "us or them". Lessons learned here have applications in many places, lessons learned elsewhere should solve or avoid a problem here ("here" - euphemism for that "which currently occupies my attention").

I didn't start with an aquarium system but perhaps I should have. I created a small system outside and while I was trying to work out the hydraulics, long before adding fish, as if by some miracle algae fouled my system. Then taking many of the same parts and reorganizing them I managed to get them to work for hours, days then weeks and got confident enough to add gold fish. I may have had a very typical experience loosing 20% almost immediately but I've managed to keep them alive for more than a year. Through sand storms, sub-zero to 100+ temperatures, loosing water down to only enough to cover the fish and more algae. But the lessons learned come only from having built a system and then trying to manage it.

Scaling the system brings new challenges. I have a totally separate re-circulating duck pond, it's also outdoors, and trying to support eight ducks in a couple of hundred gallons of water brings a new series of issues but I think that experience and research will lead to a system that serves us well.

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